Precision in Language Matters


Summer break is a good time to return to core beliefs and principles.

One of those principles is that when a word has a precise meaning, it is worth investigating, so as to communicate more clearly.  In other words, definitions matter.

Take the words education and learning.  So often we use them interchangeably, but they have different meanings.

Education: the process of systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.

Learning: the activity or process of gaining knowledge or skill by studying, practicing, being taught, or experiencing something.

Education is fundamentally a coercive act, done to someone, by an institution or system.  It is an act of molding or changing a person, as if they were an object, even if done with the best of intentions.

Learning is an individual choice by a free person.  You cannot force someone to learn anymore than you can force someone to love you.  Submitting voluntarily to the authority of an expert (teacher) is only one of four ways to learn.  The other three ways of learning a skill: studying, practicing and experiencing, are equally if not more powerful.

Why does this matter?  Because when some parents ask me how we “educate” our children at Acton Academy,  I am no longer going to accept the premise of the question.  We do not educate; we provide a learning community within which our young heroes are free to explore, practice and experience life.



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